China eyes US$10 trillion in imports from Latin America, Caribbean

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw (left) makes a point to China’s Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi (centre) and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for Land, Environment, Climate Change and Investment Daryl Vaz during a courtesy call made by the ambassador last Wednesday.

(Jamaica Observer) The Government of the People’s Republic of China is looking to import some US$10 trillion in goods and services from Latin America and the Caribbean over the next five years, China’s Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi has disclosed.

He was speaking to journalists last Wednesday during a courtesy call on Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for Land, Environment, Climate Change and Investment Daryl Vaz at Shaw’s ministry.

Tian said, however, that it is up to Jamaica to capitalise on the initiative while noting that trade between the two countries in 2017 amounted to US$382 million.

China earlier this month hosted its International Import Expo 2018, a major trade show in Shanghai. Both Shaw and Vaz, along with a team from Jamaica Promotions Corporation, attended the expo where there were 3,600 displays from 4,000 companies out of 172 countries.

“This is the first ever China international expo and it’s a big action taken by the Chinese Government to open up to the outside world. That means China opened up its market voluntarily to the rest of the world, including Jamaica. We welcome the export from other countries to China. That means we want to import more commodities from the rest of the world. We have a plan to import US$10 trillion in commodities over the next five years,” Ambassador Tian said.

He noted that the move by the Chinese Government is one that should attract scores of local businesses and will serve to further strengthen the Jamaica/China partnership.

 “We should make joint efforts to export more Jamaican commodities to China. …As we all know, Jamaica is already very, very famous for its world-class brands in music, coffee, rum, and athletics. Beijing is a good fortune for [Usain] Bolt and China is a good market for Jamaica. We open our arms to Jamaican tourists and also we are opening our arms to the Jamaican commodities. We expect to import more and more Jamaican commodities. China and Jamaica are good partners, both in name and initiatives,” the ambassador said.

Already, plans are being put in place for Jamaica to expand the coffee industry by increasing exports to the East Asia country.

“What the Government of China must be commended for is showing that they fully recognise that this is not just all about China producing for the world, but the world producing together, specialising in its various strengths and trading with one another,” said Shaw.

“For instance, the coffee industry for Jamaica has been languishing in recent years, but one of the things I have targeted for expansion now is the coffee industry. The Chinese market is growing by 15 per cent a year and that is in circumstances where the average Chinese only drinks four cups of coffee per year. In a population of 1.4 billion that’s where the market is for the growth of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee,” Shaw added.

“So we are targeting that and there is important information related to my visit on that, that I’m not yet at liberty to announce, except to say that the Chinese connection is going to be a part of a massive expansion of the Blue Mountain Coffee and High Mountain Coffee as well in Jamaica,” said Shaw.

China’s consumption of coffee increased by 46 per cent between 2011 and 2016. Between January and September 2017, China imported almost 50 per cent more coffee than it did in the same period for 2016.

Despite the growing demand for the beverage, China’s import of Jamaican coffee is minimal, totalling 26 per cent per annum from 2011 to 2016. Chinese coffee bean consumption is projected to reach US$50 billion by 2025.

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